Extreme makeover: Boston Red Sox coaches edition

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Third base coach third base coach Brian Butterfield
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Third base coach third base coach Brian Butterfield /

Boston Red Sox coaches Brian Butterfield, Chili Davis, and Carl Willis have all accepted positions with other teams following a managerial change.

Coaches are dropping like flies for the Boston Red Sox. Roughly two weeks after firing manager John Farrell, the Red Sox have now lost their hitting, pitching, and third base coaches.

I, for one, have mixed emotions on the departure of these coaches. I’ve grown accustomed to them in the Red Sox organization, and I know the players have too. In that sense, it’s sad to see them go.

On the other hand, the Red Sox need to improve in all aspects of the game. Offensively, our hitting was wildly inconsistent and our base running was nonsensical at times. Our pitching was solid, but again, inconsistent. Inconsistency is not a recipe for success.

So yes, it hurts to see the entire Red Sox coaching staff leave Boston, but it’s not bad news for the team. With Alex Cora in at manager, things were going to be different regardless. Now we wait to see who the Red Sox bring in as a supporting cast.

Brian Butterfield to the Chicago Cubs

It’s not Festivus yet, but I’m going to air my grievances regardless. No need to get out the aluminum pole, I’ll do it right here.

The Red Sox base running was piss poor in the 2017 season. According to Baseball Reference, the Red Sox led the MLB in “outs on base”, a stat that, you guessed it, measures how many outs the team ran into. That doesn’t include pickoffs, force plays, or caught stealings.

The Sox ran into 81 outs on the base paths, 11 more than the next closest team. Of those 81, we lead the league in outs made at 3rd (19) and home (29).

Some of this can be chalked up to “aggressiveness”, and I’ll buy that to an extent. The Red Sox were 6th in runners left on base per game, which explains the aggressive base running. The inconsistent and not clutch offense, however, is not a reason to be stupid on the base paths.

For example, if Mitch Moreland touches 3rd base when the left fielder gets the ball, DO NOT SEND HIM HOME. Know your runners and trust the batters in the lineup. Running into outs does not do anyone any favors.

All in all, I’m excited for the Red Sox to bring in a new third base coach. I’m not happy for Butter’s 5-year stint in Boston to end, but I think it’s for the good of the team. I hate to see him go, but I love to watch him leave.

Chili Davis to the Chicago Cubs

I won’t lie to you all. You’ve chosen to read my blog and have made it this far, so I’ll be totally honest with you. I owe you all that much. Losing Chili Davis really cuts me to the core.

I liked Davis as a hitting coach. A lot. It was Davis who helped Mookie Betts out of his midseason funk. I think he was an intelligent and knowledgeable source of hitting information. Unfortunately, the Cubs think so too.

The Red Sox hitting struggles were not mechanical, in my personal opinion. What we lacked this season, was a power hitter and timely hitting as a team. Other than Hanley, who had a middle-of-the-road-for-Hanley season, the Red Sox don’t have any power hitters. No hitting coach in the world will turn Andrew Benintendi into a 40 homer guy.

Timely hitting is also not mechanical. It’s about the clutch factor, which, you can’t teach. I think some timely hitting will come with experience, as the Red Sox lineup is largely made up of younger guys. Again, not something to pin on Chili.

I don’t think the Red Sox will really suffer after losing Chili, but he had good chemistry with the hitters and knew their swings inside and out. It’s going to take a true hitting aficionado to replace him.

Carl Willis to the Cleveland Indians

Who’s luckier than Carl Willis, man? This guy comes into Boston and gets to coach David Price, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel in his time here. Then, he leaves and gets to coach Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Andrew Miller, and he gets to coach alongside Terry Francona? Don’t have to tell him twice.

In terms of ERA, the Willis-led Red Sox rotation improved every year. From 4.31 to 4.00 to 3.70, the Red Sox staff became one that opposing teams didn’t want to face. This can be attributed to the signing of David Price and Chris Sale, however.

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My question to you is this: did Carl Willis get the most out of his pitchers? Come on everyone, say it with me. No, no he did not. Chris Sale will put up numbers regardless of his coach. Sale, along with the other Red Sox starters, became extremely untrustworthy late in the season, culminating in short starts in the most important games of the season.

The Sox rotation was brimming with potential, but instead, we wound up with 2 reliable starters. I mean, how hard is it to work on keeping the ball down with Rick Porcello? I’m no pitching coach, but when the ball keeps getting launched into orbit I think it’s time to change something up.

The Red Sox are changing something up, but not in the pitchers’ mechanics. I’m interested to see who’s at the head of the staff in the 2018 season.

On the right track

Overall, I would say the Red Sox are on the right track to success. Alex Cora is going to be a great head coach and I can only assume his staff will be also.

It’s clear that the Red Sox are looking for changes, so it’s no surprise they’re implementing a top-down rebuild. What gets interesting is when they start looking for players.

Dave Dombrowski isn’t one to mess around, so if he’s gonna go for it, he’s gonna go for it. Expect some big names and big rumors to be thrown around, because I wouldn’t count anything out.

Next: The 50 Greatest Red Sox of All-Time

For now, I’ll enjoy this World Series which has proven to be a lot of fun so far. But the countdown has already started. March 29th will be here before you can bat an eyelash. Figuratively speaking, of course.